New English domestic violence guidelines

New guidance on handling cases of domestic abuse was published by the English Crown Prosecution Service at the end of 2014, following extensive consultation.

FNF Scotland welcomes the fact that this guidance includes very specific indications that withdrawing contact with children can count as abuse, and that there is severe underreporting of domestic violence agaist men.  We will ask the Scottish Crown Office to include similar indications within their own published information.

The key parts of the new guidance are as follows:

Prosecutors should be aware that there is a significant under-reporting of domestic abuse against male victims.  Many victims will be reluctant to report offending in the fear that it may damage their reputation, or pride; others may be hesitant as they fear the consequences that may ensue in relation to their family settings.  Prosecutors will need to deal with these issues with great care, to ensure that male victims do not feel undermined, or the credibility of their allegation not believed on the basis of their gender.

Prosecutors should also note that in some cases, female perpetrated abuse against male partners is a sensitive and complex area.  Some women may use children within the relationship to manipulate a male victim, by for example threatening to take away contact rights.  It is therefore essential that where such instances arise, prosecutors work very closely with the police to investigate and consider the whole picture, before any charging decision is made.